When you think about rainforests, the state of Washington may not come to mind. But Olympic National Park is home to temperate rain forests that receive 12-14 feet of rain each year. But don’t stop at exploring the rainforests. There are also miles of Pacific beaches and fantastic mountaintop views.
Olympic National Park is a large national park covering more than 1440 square miles. So it takes a little bit of planning to travel between the different areas of the park. Most park destinations can be reached via Highway 101. This highway creates an almost complete circle around the park. The park has created this handy mileage chart to help visitors plan for the distance between various regions. Find the chart here.
For example, Hurricane Ridge is 106 miles from the Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center. And the main visitor center in Port Angeles is 145 miles from the Quinault Ranger Station.
As a result of the distance between locations, Olympic National Park isn’t the kind of national park you can adequately explore in one day. Be sure to plan plenty of time to explore this national park with your pup.
Dog-Friendly Activities in Olympic National Park
As always, when visiting a national park with your dogs, it is important to follow the principles of BARK.
- Bag your dog’s poop. (If you need some creative ideas to make this easier, check out our recent blog post: 7 Creative Ways to Deal with Your Dog’s Poop While Hiking.)
- Always wear a leash. Olympic National Park, like most location, requires dogs to be on a leash that is 6 feet in length or less.
- Respect wildlife. This is best accomplished by keeping as much distance as possible between your dog and the animals who call the national park home.
- Know where you can go. Luckily, there are several pet-friendly areas in Olympic National Park.
In addition to being allowed in campgrounds and picnic areas, pets are allowed on several trails. These trails include the following:
- Peabody Creek Trail
- Rialto Beach parking lot to Ellen Creek
- The beaches between the Hoh and Quinault Reservations (Kalaloch area)
- Madison Falls Trail
- Spruce Railroad Trail
- July Creek Loop
Like most national parks, pets are also allowed on paved or dirt roads. And take note that Pets should not be left unattended at Olympic National Park.
Also, did you know that Olympic National Park has a Bark Rangers program? Well behaved dogs and their humans should visit the Kalaloch Ranger Station to find out more about this fun program. Find out more about Olympic National Park’s pet policy at the official NPS site.
Our adventure in Olympic National Park
During our visit to Olympic National Park, we first stopped at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center. There is a short dog-friendly trail here – Peabody Trail. This trail is only about ½ mile in length, but it is a good option if you are just looking to stretch the dogs’ legs after some time in the car. And as mentioned above, getting between points of interest in Olympic National Park can mean a little bit of time spent in the car.
After stopping at the visitors center, we began the drive up to Hurricane Ridge. Hurricane Ridge is a must see in Olympic National Park. The drive up is pretty, but just before you reach the top of the road, the views become amazing! Snow-capped peaks and open meadow valleys. And you can even catch a view of Mt. Olympus itself.
After you drive down from Hurricane Ridge, you are only a few miles away from Lake Crescent, where the dog-friendly Spruce Railroad Trail is located. Spruce Railroad Trail is a flat hike along an old railroad grade. It offers some views of the lake and a cool tunnel. We hiked an hour out and back hike, the trail is much longer if you have more time to hike.
Camping in Olympic National Park
There are several campgrounds located within Olympic National Park. The official park website has all the details, but be aware that only two campgrounds accept reservations: Kalaloch and Sol Duc. And many limit RV length to 21 feet or shorter.
We did not end up camping within Olympic National Park. Instead, we spent our night before visiting the park at Dosewallips State Park and utilized an overnight rest area in Seattle on our way from Olympic to North Cascades National Park.
Dosewallips State Park is a 1,064 acre state park located near the Hood Canal and the Dosewallips River. It is an easy spot to spend the night before driving to Olympic National Park. All of the camp areas are grassy and some are even located riverside. Find out more about visiting Dosewallips below in the next section.
As far as the overnight rest area… We don’t really enjoy spending a night at a rest area, but the great thing about the SeaTac Rest Stop is that you CAN spend the night. There are only a handful of states that allow overnight parking in their rest areas. So despite the less than ideal camping arrangement, we are so grateful to the states that allow rest areas to truly be a place of rest.
Dog-Friendly Activities in the Surrounding Areas.
There are many dog-friendly areas to explore outside of Olympic National Park. One of the first places you should consider visiting is Olympic National Forest.
Olympic National Forest has over 250 miles of trails and all of them are allow dogs. Additionally, about half of these are at low elevation and are open year round. While we did not explore any of these trails personally, we have heard great things about them. If you are spending more time in this area than we did, make sure to check out this national forest.
Dosewallips State Park
Dosewallips State Park is a nice dog-friendly stop on the way to Olympic National Park. There are a total of 5 miles of hiking trails for you and your pup to enjoy.
The park is only 60 miles north of Olympia and states that it is “the eastern gateway to the Olympic Peninsula.” Dosewallips itself is a freshwater/saltwater park as the Dosewallips River flows into the Hood Canal at this location.
While many of the park’s trails meander through forested landscape along the Dosewallips River, you can also choose to explore the delta on the Hood River. Clam-diggers will be happy with the shoreline along the Hood Canal.
Elk herds are also known to frequent this state park. During our visit, we woke up to a decent sized elk herd grazing in the campground. We carefully kept our distance with the dogs as we made our way out to the hiking trails that morning.
North Cascades and other Washington State Parks
If you are willing to travel further around the state of Washington, don’t miss visiting the North Cascades with your dog. We will be sharing information about our adventures in this region in an upcoming blog post. Don’t want to wait for our next post? Then feel free to check out our adventures in the nearby Crater Lake National Park and various dog-friendly locations in the state of Oregon.
In the meantime, if you are interested in exploring other Washington State Parks with your dogs, visit Band of Nekkids‘ website. This intrepid trio of pups is attempting to make it to all 100 Washington State Parks this year. So far, they have only shared their January update, but we are excited to discover the rest of the Washington State Parks with them this year.
Final Thoughts on Visiting Olympic National Park with Dogs
I wouldn’t hesitate to visit Olympic National Park with dogs again. We didn’t have time for a full exploration of this national park and would love to visit again. Next time we will head to the Hoh Rainforest area and exploring the Pacific coast. In addition, we can’t wait to explore some of the trails in the Olympic National Forest.
While all of Washington’s three national parks are beautiful, Hurricane Ridge holds a special place in my memory. And that might just be the one place I would want to explore without the pups. Hiking among those mountains would be an incredible experience and unfortunately, it is not an experience that dogs are allowed.
But overall, much of this national park can be explored from the car, making it a fairly dog-friendly experience. Couple the roadside views with the small handful of dog-friendly trails, and this national park is a good option for those who don’t want to leave the dog behind.
Inspired to visit a national park with your dog? Visit our National Park Adventures page.
And if you have visited Olympic National Park with your dogs, leave us a comment about your experience.